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A local theater is screening Koyaanisqatsi next month with a live soundtrack performance by The Philip Glass Ensemble. I've never seen the film -- doesn't it have a soundtrack? Should I see it -- isn't it one of your favorites Peter?

"It's a dangerous business going out your front door." -- J.R.R. Tolkien
"I want to believe in art-induced epiphanies." -- Josie
"I would never be dismissive of pop entertainment; it's much too serious a matter for that." -- NBooth

"If apologetics could prove God, I would lose all faith in Him." -- Josie

"What if--just what if--the very act of storytelling is itself redemptive? What if gathering up the scraps and fragments of a disordered life and binding them between the pages of a book in all of their fragmentary disorder is itself a gambit against that disorder?" -- NBooth

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with a live soundtrack performance by The Philip Glass Ensemble

This may sound like a dumb quesiton but that's never stopped me before:

Is Philip Glass in the Philip Glass Ensemble?

And does he really spell his name with only one "L"?

-s.

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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: A local theater is screening Koyaanisqatsi next month with a live

: soundtrack performance by The Philip Glass Ensemble. I've never seen

: the film -- doesn't it have a soundtrack?

Yes, but the soundtrack is by Philip Glass, so it's all good.

: Should I see it -- isn't it one of your favorites Peter?

It is one of his favorites, and although I'm not nearly as high on the film as he is, yes, you should see it, assuming that the live performance doesn't make attending the film cost-prohibitive.

: And does he really spell his name with only one "L"?

Yes.

Dale

Metalfoot on Emmanuel Shall Come to Thee's Noel: "...this album is...monotony...bland, tripy fare..."

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Thanks, BUT -- the greatest of my two questions remains unanswered. At the heart of my statement was this -- Is Philip Glass going to be in the theater? Because it seems that that alone would make it worth the trip.

-s.

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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Yes, Philip Glass will be there answering questions beforehand apparently. Although tickets for that are $100. I didn't know he composed the original soundtrack. Cool. Tickets start at $35, which I think I can manage (poor college student that I am).

Alan, it's September 29 at the Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts in Harrisburg if you're interested.

"It's a dangerous business going out your front door." -- J.R.R. Tolkien
"I want to believe in art-induced epiphanies." -- Josie
"I would never be dismissive of pop entertainment; it's much too serious a matter for that." -- NBooth

"If apologetics could prove God, I would lose all faith in Him." -- Josie

"What if--just what if--the very act of storytelling is itself redemptive? What if gathering up the scraps and fragments of a disordered life and binding them between the pages of a book in all of their fragmentary disorder is itself a gambit against that disorder?" -- NBooth

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Darryl A. Armstrong wrote

: A local theater is screening Koyaanisqatsi next month with a live

: soundtrack performance by The Philip Glass Ensemble.

Cool!

: I've never seen the film -- doesn't it have a soundtrack?

Two, actually -- a 40ish-minute CD that was released in conjunction with the film in the 1980s, and a 70ish-minute re-recording of the music that was released in the late 1990s -- or three, if you count the complete and original soundtrack on the DVD.

: Should I see it -- isn't it one of your favorites Peter?

Yes, and yes. My post on the old board. My top ten list.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Peter:

Yes, and yes. My post on the old board. My top ten list.

Thanks! Interesting post. I think I'll definitely be going...

"It's a dangerous business going out your front door." -- J.R.R. Tolkien
"I want to believe in art-induced epiphanies." -- Josie
"I would never be dismissive of pop entertainment; it's much too serious a matter for that." -- NBooth

"If apologetics could prove God, I would lose all faith in Him." -- Josie

"What if--just what if--the very act of storytelling is itself redemptive? What if gathering up the scraps and fragments of a disordered life and binding them between the pages of a book in all of their fragmentary disorder is itself a gambit against that disorder?" -- NBooth

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Flaming Poultice wrote:

: Has anyone heard any news on the third movie of the thrilogy being

: released on DVD? I'm anxious to complete my set...!

Yup, it comes out in October!

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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  • 7 months later...

Okay, this has been floundering on my queue for weeks around the 11 or 12 spot, bumbped by newer releases I'm more excited to see. But after viewing Winged Migration and being moved by the juxtaposition of the natural created world and man's. So, perhaps, I'll let it float to the top three of my queue un impeded. Especially after reading Peter's comments on it.

Can anyone spell it phoenetically? I've only seen it in print and have no idea how to pronounce it.

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DanBuck wrote:

: Can anyone spell it phoenetically?

Does this, from the website, help?

ko.yaa.nis.katsi (from the Hopi language), n. 1. crazy life. 2. life in turmoil. 3. life disintegrating. 4. life out of balance. 5. a state of life that calls for another way of living.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Thanks, Peter.

SPECIAL TELEVISION PRESENTATIONS - KOYAANISQATSI  

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

GREAT PERFORMANCES, PBS (SECOND HIGHEST AUDIENCE OVERNIGHT RATING, 20 MILLION VIEWERS FOR THE SERIES)

I wonder what the first was.

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I met Philip Glass in Seattle before one of these live performances---my photographer was doing a cover for SNR and invited me to sit in. The contemplative photo on the front page wound up being inspired by Glass' pondering of the term 'butt rot' my friend used to describe the trees on his property that had begun mysteriously collapsing...

The live orchestra, comprised of about 8 keyboardists and a drummer IIRC, was very cool. They screened it at the Paramount; the orchestra played before the full-size movie on the screen. The sequence with the sundered thruster descending at the end was especially neeeeeeeeeeato....

[iNSERT SIGNATURE HERE]

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  • 1 year later...

I just posted this in the "soundtracks" thread but realized I should have posted it here, too ...

- - -

The New Yorker has a nice article on soundtracks in general and Philip Glass's Koyaanisqatsi in particular on their website right now ... a copy of it can be found here, too.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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  • 5 months later...

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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  • 8 months later...

I just realized I never linked to my blog post on last February's concert. What a lapse.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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  • 4 years later...
We witness the clouds flowing over mountaintops like the waters of creation, we witness the demolition of a failed modernist social-housing project at Pruitt-Igoe . . .

From the article excerpt that I link to there:

Ten years before he died, Yamasaki witnessed a particularly cruel slap to his Modernist conviction that good architecture can make good people. Put up in 1955, the Pruitt-Igoe housing project in St. Louis was to have been a shining example of public housing that uplifted and encouraged. By 1975, Pruitt-Igoe had become a horror house of violence, crime and squalor. Seeing no point in pouring new money into attempts to fix things, the authorities turfed out the residents who had not already fled, and ordered the project professionally dynamited. The spectacular destruction of this equally spectacular architectural failure has become
the stuff of legend
among younger architects, some of whom date the death of post-war idealism from the day Pruitt-Igoe went down.

Robert Koehler @ Variety has just written a review of a new documentary called The Pruitt-Igoe myth:

Detailing the birth, life and death of America's first major urban housing project in St. Louis, Chad Freidrichs' "The Pruitt-Igoe Myth" combines concise but thoroughgoing sociological-historical analysis and elegant cinematic resources in service of an uncommonly artful example of film journalism. Designed to counter certain untruths that arose from the widely publicized detonation of the Pruitt-Igoe project, pic digs into the heart of the country's postwar city-to-suburb development. A superb fest item, "Myth" should pique the interest of docu-specialist distribs.

With Jason Henry's sober, beautifully matched narration as its guide, Freidrichs' film begins unexpectedly with what appears to be a sojourn through a forest. In fact, the woods are the growth on the huge, vacant lot left by the 1974 demolition of Pruitt-Igoe, officially named the Wendell O. Pruitt and William L. Igoe Homes built for low-income residents. The haunting intro is a tipoff that this won't be your usual political tract or an overly academic exercise.

In its quest to find the true causes of the project's failure, Freidrichs and co-writer Jaime Freidrichs (the helmer's wife) are keen to disabuse the viewer of the notion that urban housing projects, such as this one and Chicago's notorious Cabrini-Green, are universally failed attempts at social engineering and thus proof of the failure of national welfare programs. As such, the film reps a powerful counterargument to the political right's generally blanket dismissal of such projects; indeed, the widely broadcast film of Pruitt-Igoe's demolition became a visual tool for critics of government programs in the 1970s in advance of Reagan-era welfare cuts.

Among the myths debunked are the notion that the buildings, designed by modernist Japanese architect Minoru Yamasaki, were made to fail. Urban historian Robert Fishman underlines the fact that Southern blacks migrating to northern cities in the early 20th century were faced with shoddy housing; the 1949 Housing Act used eminent domain to raze many of these monstrosities, with the plan to replace them with modern, clean apartment blocks.

Chad Freidrichs' masterstroke is to include emotionally powerful interviews with former Pruitt-Igoe residents, who knock down another myth: that the place was crappy from the start. In fact, the older residents, who moved in when the doors opened in 1954, recall something close to paradise -- a "poor man's penthouse." Families enjoyed each other, kids played everywhere and safely, and the city maintenance was excellent.

This latter element comes in for strong critique here, since the local housing authority, supposedly starved of funding, began to cut back after the early golden years. With thousands living in the massive complex of apartment blocks and a skeletal maintenance staff, Pruitt-Igoe began to visibly deteriorate by the mid-1960s. The images of trash, sewer leaks and general decay is a shocking sight to behold in Brian Woodman's phenomenal archival work. . . .

More info about the documentary here.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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  • 1 month later...

I can't decide how I feel about this one. Or, rather, I can't decide if my criticisms of Koyaanisqatsi are like the complaints other A&F'ers had about Maya Deren's Meshes of the Afternoon when it was on the list -- that its technical and formal boundary-pushing had become so absorbed into mainstream filmmaking and advertising that it no longer seems avant-garde on a first viewing. It's all so very dated, not only in its techniques (time-lapse photography most of all) but also in its eco-politics (for lack of a better word). I wish I'd seen Koyaanisqatsi twenty years ago, when it was more timely and before I'd begun exploring the masters of a-g cinema. This one really pales in comparison.

My biggest complaint with the film is Reggio's obsession with varying frame rates. Especially in the penultimate section, the 25-minute time-lapse view of a city at night, Koyaanisqatsi only comes alive for me when he lets the camera run at 24fps. I understand the decision -- that he wanted to show how we're all "cogs in the machine" -- but I often found it had the opposite effect. The factory sequences, in particular, turn workers into art objects, whereas, for example, a long-duration, real-time shot of a woman feeding pieces of denim into a sewing machine or pulling Twinkies from a conveyor over and over and over again would've made the same political argument but it would've been much more persuasive because that woman would have retained her human-ness and dignity.

There's no denying the beauty of some of the images, though. I would've liked the film much better if Reggio had played it all in real time and given us a five or six hour run time.

I have to say, it really pains me that we lost Deren and Brakhage in the latest iteration of the list and that Koyaanisqatsi is as close as we now come to acknowledging the avant-garde.

Edited by Darren H
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A couple more thoughts:

- While I stand by my complaints that the film is badly dated, my favorite thing about it is its documentary footage of life in the US at the end of the 1970s. I don't watch many films from the late-'70s/early-'80s, so I always enjoy the nostalgia.

- I'd somehow gotten the notion that Reggio had also composed the score, so I spent the entire running time of the film thinking, "This sounds like mediocre Philip Glass." And I was right. ;)

- I would've happily watched an hour-long version of that shot of Camaro bodies being dropped onto their chassis -- provided that it was at 24fps.

- Another nitpick: most of the reviews I've found describe it as a wordless film scored only by music, which isn't exactly right. There are several moments when sound effects have been added to correspond with the images. I noticed it six or seven times and felt that it was a bad decision each time.

- The last shot(s) of the exploded rocket is absolutely beautiful and is an impressive display of camera work. Reggio screwed it up, though, by cutting to a slow-motion, blown-up image for the final few seconds. If it were shown alone as a single-take short film, I would much prefer the original, uninterrupted shot (I assume this is found footage?) to Koyaanisqatsi.

- I'll give Koyaanisqatsi this much credit: I'm still thinking about it 24 hours later.

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- I'd somehow gotten the notion that Reggio had also composed the score, so I spent the entire running time of the film thinking, "This sounds like mediocre Philip Glass." And I was right. ;)

Mediocre Philip Glass?

I. Just. Don't. Get. That. Reaction.

KOYAANISQATSI is the best film score Philip Glass has ever written, bar none.

Edited by Ryan H.
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Maybe I just don't like Glass -- or maybe I've been listening to too much Steve Reich lately -- but I got bored with the relative lack of harmonic invention. Maybe Glass is purposely following Reggio's lead by repeating phrases as a kind of musical metaphor for the repetitions we see on screen, but there are different degrees of minimalism, and the constant variations and inventions you get from Reich's pieces of that era (or Terry Riley's) are so much more interesting and musical.

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Oh, don't get me wrong, I prefer Reich to Glass. Glass' style is so narrowly focused and spare that it's quite limited in what it can accomplish, and he's unfortunately so stuck in that style that he's now become redundant as a composer (I heard a joke once that Glass has four or five decent songs and has just remade them over and over again throughout his career). But I maintain that the style has some merit, and that it has produced some stunning, worthwhile compositions, even it's now more or less exhausted. Glass' score for KOYAANISQATSI is one of its strongest statements, along with some of the other work he produced in the eighties, like his opera AKHNATEN.

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Ryan H. wrote:

: Mediocre Philip Glass?

: I. Just. Don't. Get. That. Reaction.

Nor I.

: KOYAANISQATSI is the best film score Philip Glass has ever written, bar none.

I don't know that I would agree with this statement, though. In some ways, I like the Powaqqatsi and Anima Mundi scores even more, though I am only fond of the latter film as a film in its own right. Plus I'm a huge fan of The Hours and Kundun. But if I had to choose just one Philip Glass score to take with me to a desert island ... well, I wouldn't want to have to make that choice.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Not that Glass's score isn't an important topic for discussion, but I'm curious to hear responses to my other criticisms of Koyaanisqatsi. I find it an interesting but flawed film, and I guess I'm surprised by its placement on the Top 100. I don't necessarily think it doesn't belong, but I'm eager to hear defenses of it. Reggio's style goes against the grain of what we typically praise as "transcendent" or "contemplative" cinema around here -- which isn't to say that it's neither transcendent nor contemplative, I suppose.

Edited by Darren H
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